The Yankees are going to be on an airplane for the last time in the regular season on Sunday when they return from Toronto from their last road trip of the season. The Yankees are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now and can clinch a playoff berth with a strong series this weekend against the Blue Jays. The goal for the rest of the season is to secure a playoff berth and go after the Red Sox for the division early next week, but eventually settle for the Wild Card and line up the pitchers for that one game playoff.
The Yankees won six out of seven games since the last blog and have looked great in those games. Right now, I would say the only teams that are definitively better than the Bombers are the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Indians are coming off the longest winning streak in American League History and are the team the Yanks would face if they win the Wild Card game. The Dodgers on the other hand have been sliding in the last month, they were on pace to have the best record ever, but have not even clinched their division yet. They still scare me because they have the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, who can change the momentum in one game. The Yankees are the third best team in baseball but their season could end in just three hours after the start of the postseason. They have to realize that catching the Red Sox is not a feasible option, instead they should settle for the Wild Card and make sure that either Luis Severino or Sonny Gray is ready to go to pitch in that one game which will most likely played in the Bronx.
The Yankees bashed the Orioles taking three out of four against them last weekend in the Bronx. The offense has come alive in the last few weeks and the Orioles were not able to keep any game competitive except for the one game they won. In the series, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez got going again and are going to anchor the Yankee offense into the postseason. Earlier this week, the Yankees faced the Twins in the Bronx, a team that is likely going to win the second wild card. If the Wild Card game is going to be Yankees vs Twins, then the Bombers do not have much to be worried about. The Twins are an average team, while the Yankees are great. The Twins were able to keep one game competitive this week and will use that game to prepare for the postseason. Twins’ ace Erwin Santana pitched that game and was able to limit the Yankees to just two runs, but still lost the game 2-1. Santana is going to pitch the game for the Twins if they indeed make the postseason. The Angels are right behind the Twins in the standings and either team could take control of the second wild card by having one good series. This week overall was great for the Yanks, but that were some things that they need to fix before the postseason.
The first thing they need to fix is their aces. Both Severino and Gray struggled in their last starts, but only one lost the game. The Wild Card game is one game and the Yankees cannot afford to trot out a pitcher that simply does not have it that day. One bad start can end the season, so it will be interesting to see how they line up to pitch in the wild card game. Both pitchers have to use the rest of the regular season to get healthy and make sure that they have their best stuff for the postseason.
Another alarming signal for the Yanks came in their loss against the Orioles on Sunday. The Yanks went against Ubaldo Jimenez, a pitcher they have owned in the past. Jimenez was outstanding on Sunday and completely shut down the offense. Things did not get better for the Yanks, as Gray also struggled in that game and gave up five runs. The Yankees are much better than whatever team they face in the Wild Card game, but they could run into a pitcher that shuts them down for one game and that would end their season. The Yankees have to make sure that no hitter goes into the Postseason on a cold streak and make sure their own pitchers can go toe to toe with the opposing pitcher.
This weekend’s series does not matter much for the Blue Jays as they have already started building for the 2018 season. The Yanks have a lot to play for this weekend, they still have not technically clinched a playoff berth, but there is a very small chance that they do not make the postseason. They still have a chance to win the division and avoid playing in that scary one game Wild Card. The Yankees should win this series, but it is not end of the world if they do not.